FAA Tests FBI Drone Detection System at JFK

The agency is seeking high-tech solutions to the growing problem of ‘rogue’ drones flying near major airports.

FAA Drone
The FAA is testing a a system to detect "rogue" drones at JFK in New York.FAA

The FAA has started testing a drone detection system in New York airspace as it seeks high-tech ways to track down “rogue” drones around airports.

The FAA and its government, industry and academia partners have joined forces to evaluate the drone detection technology at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Over the last two years, the FAA has received numerous reports from pilots and residents about unmanned aircraft systems — UAS, or “drones” — around some of the nation’s busiest airports, including JFK.

“We face many difficult challenges as we integrate rapidly evolving UAS technology into our complex and highly regulated airspace,” said Marke “Hoot” Gibson, FAA senior adviser on UAS integration. “This effort at JFK reflects everyone’s commitment to safety.”

Starting on May 2, the FAA conducted evaluations at JFK to study the effectiveness of an FBI UAS detection system. Five rotorcraft and fixed-wing UAS were involved in the evaluations, which included dozens of test flights. The tests expanded on research performed earlier this year at Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, near the FAA’s Tech Center.

In addition to the FAA and the FBI, the agencies combining forces in this research included the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice, Queens District Attorney’s Office and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. DHS and the FBI want to identify unauthorized UAS operators for law enforcement purposes, and the FAA’s mission is to provide a safe and efficient airport environment for both manned and unmanned air traffic.